"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Just a Thought...

Wouldn't it be ironic if the first serious black presidential candidate in American history were undone in part because of a perception that he was "elitist"?

I mean, if Obama goes down - and who knows at this point what will happen - it will be because some portion of the Democratic or general electorate decided that his views were more representative of Harvard Law School than deepest, palest Pennsylvania. That's pretty remarkable, isn't it?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Giving Obama a Break, Sort Of

In fairness to Barack Obama, I sincerely believe that by "religion" he was explicitly referring to opposition to gay marriage, and politically, to the GOP's exploitation of the issue in Ohio '04. [Although it may not have made the difference, contrary to popular Democrat belief.]

From Barack's backtrack today:

So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage...

The rest of his explanation was sophistic hogwash, but I think he was honest there. After a free pass from the chattering class, it's ironic that he's getting it both barrels [gun pun intended, sorry] for the wrong reason.

On the other hand, Obama falls into Thomas Frank's Marxist-friendly "What's the Matter with Kansas" view of the human condition, that the Great Unwashed should vote their pocketbooks instead of their social values about what kind of country they want to raise their kids in.

Hey, I live in a cosmopolitan area---I know lots of folks who are unsympathetic, if not hostile, to organized religion. I can take it. But this is why Frank doesn't get Kansas, why Obama doesn't get America and why the left doesn't get what all the hubbub's about:

It's the leftism, stupid.


Other than Tibet, China's OK?

So here's what I don't get about the current contretemps regarding the Olympics and whether heads of state should boycott the opening ceremonies and all: it seems entirely framed in terms of the recent events in Tibet (where China has been behaving thuggishly for a good half-century). Soooo...if the crackdown hadn't happened in Tibet, would we be talking about this at all? Is the idea that the repression in Tibet means that China has crossed some line but that its continued repression of political opposition and religious liberty, forced abortions, support for genocidal regimes, and the like don't cross the line? Is the message that we want to send that you can throw Christian pastors in jail at your whim, lock up and torture people who merely ask for free speech, and act as a de facto sugar daddy to some of the world's ugliest regimes, but just don't act similarly toward the Tibetans?

I'm not especially impressed with calls for Olympic boycotts or whatever - they seem to me a sort of grandstanding that makes the protesters feel good, but has little actual effect. (It would be much better if each American athlete, for example, carried with them a picture or name of a Chinese dissident in jail or under house arrest - or even better if they decided to go meet with them and dare the Chinese to arrest them or get in their way). But what seems to me the rather weird way in which some events galvanize opposition and others are merely par for the course is troubling and doesn't speak well of us.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

McCain People Sleeping Just a Bit Easier These Days

Religion, Government, and Obama

Has anyone else noticed that Obama seems to think that bitter people will abandon their descent into religious faith when they have a government that they can count on? Do I actually have that right? Well, OK then: In Obama's sophisticated view, religion is just the opiate of the masses!

I think that the McCain people ought to be sleeping just a bit easier these days.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Statistically Proven: No Republicans Watch CNN!

Well, by now you've heard about Barack Obama calling the small-town people who aren't voting for him firearms-humpin' Jebus-lovin' xenophobes. Even worse than that, protectionists!

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations...

Most fascinating is CNNPolitics.com's report, with hundreds of comments---but not one from an apparent Republican, just a few Hillaryistas being gobbled up by a swarm of Obamans.

Now, a commenter at the righty blog The Ace of Spades says CNN is censoring his $0.02. Either way, censorship or 100% Democrat readership, CNN is toejam.

Equally fascinating---in over 800 comments at the Daily Kos, scarcely a whisper from the Hillary corner. Since the Obamans descended on them with all their savagery last month, Daily Kos, the jewel of the leftosphere, is a Hillary no-go zone.

I used to think when I got into a scrap with a lefty, it was all in the game. But after seeing how they treat each other, I'm thinking something more pathological is at work, if not downright eerie.

No more Republicans at CNN, no Hillary people left at Kos. The Disappeared. Soon all that'll be left is the Obamans, unified, hopeful, agents of change...


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Numbers Don't Lie! (Though sometimes people do bend them).

Larry Bartels, a political science professor at Princeton, has gotten a lot of play in "the internets" (as a friend of mine calls it) for his argument that Democratic presidents help create more economic growth and more egalitarian distributional effects than their GOP counterparts, at least since WWII. Jim Manzi's dismantling of at least the inequality claims over at NRO almost make me wish I had spent more time doing stats in grad school and less reading Plato or whoever. Well, almost.

What's remarkable about Manzi's analysis - and deadly for Bartels' claims - is that he makes clear that Bartels is playing a shell game with his numbers. When calculating presidential effects, Bartels gives himself a "lag year" and so Jimmy Carter gets credit for whatever happens economically for a year after he stopped being president. (That's 1980 for you young'uns). But as Manzi shows, if you get rid of the lag year or make it two years, all of Bartels' effects disappear. Poof! Now, maybe there's something robust about a year, but my guess is that Bartels fidgeted around a bit with the lag until he got what made sense to him.

Someone Ought to be Fired

Another example of university administrators not having a clue as to what the First Amendment requires of them: a state university has reprimanded a tenured professor because they've decided that the things he's posted on his door constitute "harassment", not "protected free speech." Nonsense upon nonsense. Administrators are not going to learn their lesson on these things - if you're working at a state university, you can't tell someone not to say something except under very limited circumstances - until people start losing their jobs. The professor and his legal team should do more than ding the school for some cash, they should demand firings.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Condi for Veep?

Speculation abounds.

My first instinct is that she's too connected with the Current Occupant to be anything but a drag for McCain.

But according to the ABCNews blog, not only does she want the gig, but

The survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted during the last few days of March, found that the Secretary of State enjoys a solid favorability rating: 56% expressed a good opinion of her, compared to 29% who did not.

I mean, if she could split the 15% "Don't Know" crowd, who right now are busy getting abducted by aliens and writing letters to Elvis, her favorables would be over 60%, even better than Barack ["I'll Unify Your Ass"] Obama's.

An interesting thought, anyway. If John ["I'll Unify Your Ass Even Better"] McCain finds himself in a poll hole come convention time, Condoleezza could be a helluva Hail Mary.


Friday, April 04, 2008


My friend Ashley Woodiwiss, who teaches political theory at Erskine College in South Carolina, has suffered what can only be considered the most grievous of tragedies: his daughter Anna has been killed in an accident while working in Afghanistan. Go read Alan Jacob's touching memorial. RIP.

Juan Williams on Obama and Wright

But when Barack Obama, arguably the best of this generation of black or white leaders, finds it easy to sit in Rev. Wright's pews and nod along with wacky and bitterly divisive racial rhetoric, it does call his judgment into question. And it reveals a continuing crisis in racial leadership.

What would Jesus do? There is no question he would have left that church.

Well said, sir.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Night Network "News"

60 Minutes had an ex-Gitmo guy named Murat Kurnaz on tonight, charging all sorts of torture during his detainment.

Maybe too juicy a tidbit for 60 Minutes, but in an interview with Radio Bremen last year, Murat Kurnaz apparently alleged

Almost every time that someone had to go to the medical center and was away for a few days, he usually came back with a body part missing. I saw this with my own eyes: that one or another of my neighbors was taken to the medical center and then came back and something had been amputated. Even though he had not been sick and it wasn't necessary. For instance, fingers that were perfectly healthy.

Now, some people find this sort of thing easy to believe, I'm sure. Me, it makes me think Murat Kurnaz is not the type of fellow who always tells the truth.

And there was Lesley Stahl's nodding, fawning interview with Al Gore. Excellent. Then, flipping over to NBC, there was "journalist" Keith Olbermann fulminating over Bush with NBC "news analyst" Rachel Maddow of Air America. In prime time, on NBC, not MSNBC.

The mainstream media, fair and balanced, as always.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

An Obama "Pivot"?

No Left Turns points us to a shift in Obama's rhetoric regarding Rev. Wright. Obama was smarter to let things lie as they did after the Philly speech - and let his allies, especially in the media, intelligentsia, and black church establishments, construct apologies (in the sense of providing arguments) on his behalf. By starting to shift his position, he risks ending up with what we might call the "Kerry" problem. Kerry lost the 2004 elections, in my view, largely because he couldn't explain what he *really* thought about the war in Iraq. His classic "I voted for it before I voted against it" fatally wounded his campaign precisely because it so perfectly exemplified his waffling and left him without a coherent narrative to pull the campaign together. Likewise with Obama, as he tries to subtly shift his positions away from Wright, it will become all the more difficult for him to explain that relationship. The questions will just pile on: now, instead of just having to answer why he stuck around TUCC, he'll have to answer why he's saying something different than he said before. The problem, I suspect, is that there's more Wright nastiness out there and that Obama has realized that while Wright probably doesn't represent a fatal problem in the primaries, he's a heavy burden to carry in the general election. But the "pivot" here (if that's what this is) may end up being the thing that does him in.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pelosi's Brave Dissent

WASHINGTON - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime critic of China's human rights policies, said Friday it would be wrong to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

She said in a statement that while the Chinese government has failed to live up to its commitments to improve human rights conditions in China and Tibet, "I believe a boycott of the Beijing Olympics would unfairly harm our athletes who have worked so hard to prepare for the competition.

Not to mention they'd cut off our supply of Elmo dolls.

Y'know, I could vote Democrat now and then if they were willing to pay a price, any price, some price, for their loudly expressed principles.

As I said in India last week where I met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, if freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China's oppression in Tibet, we have lost our moral authority to speak out on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world," she said.

Talk, talk, talk. At least Jimmy Carter was willing to hiss some people off by boycotting the 1980 Soviet Olympics after they invaded Afghanistan. Maybe not the best decision, but a principled one, one with a price, and to his credit.

Oh well, back to Bush, to make sure he doesn't get re-elected and invade Iraq again.



Jennifer Rubin over at Commentary's blog contentions picks up on something that's been bothering me about the whole Obama-Rev. Wright thing.

In his big speech in Philly, Obama essentially excused Wright by saying that he'd grown up under different circumstances and that his "static" views on race were thereby understandable, if still wrongheaded. It's a nice rhetorical move, even if Wright grew up quite comfortably and even if Obama's "distancing" coincided precisely with his presidential ambitions, but it doesn't quite square with the idea that Wright is somehow "brilliant," does it?

In my mind, if someone's pretty smart, they have the capacity to look beyond their own particularities (never perfectly, of course) and do better than Wright has done - he seems stuck in 1968. All goes to the idea that Obama's really just playing games here (and was probably playing games with his embrace of Trinity UCC). Just another pol, I suppose.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh ye of little faith...

So the Obamas sure are chintzy with their charitable donations, at least when they're making less than a cool quarter-million. Or, to be even a bit more cynical, when they're thinking about running for president. So in 2002, the Obamas made roughly $260,000 and gave $1050 to charity. That's awful, simply awful. Obama's looking more like the most ordinary pol around every day.

But maybe there's a way he could turn this to his advantage. Maybe he could say, see, I wasn't all *that* invested in Rev. Wright's church - I hardly gave them any money most years. I just sat in the pews and heard all those sermons and thought about the wonderful things that the church was doing for the poor, things that I, of course, had nothing to do with financially...hmmm, maybe that won't work so well after all.....

So how is Obama anything other than an eloquent dyed-in-the-wool liberal law professor? He has no political views that the vast majority of faculty don't hold. He has been a part of a church that is defined as much by radical academic theories as by any biblical gospel. He makes claims to be close to certain people and then pushes others away whenever it is convenient for his political goals. He doesn't spend any of his own money helping others but thinks that others should have their earnings taken so that the state can spend it. And so on and so on...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Eyewitness Testimony about Chicago Politics

It's not our custom to be a reblogging blog around here.

But Caroline Glick sounds like a righteous dude. Offered for America's consideration, word up.

It's the Leftism, Stupid

Barack Obama is getting high praise from the MSNBC/NYT types for having the "courage" to tell America that there are a lot of chronically hissed-off black folks.

Duh. White folks know all about it; they buy more rap records than blacks, and if they didn't read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, they caught a few minutes of the movie on cable.

But it's wrong to read Rev. Jeremiah Wright's jeremiads as racism against whites, his church as "black separatist," or his anger as a uniquely black phenomenon. Rev. Wright mostly rails against the adolescent Hollywood image of the bad guy: rich white men, the common enemy of all mankind, what Peter Sinfield called "gargoyles chewing on dead cigars." There are white faces at the Trinity Church services nodding in agreement along with the black ones---the tirades against the gargoyles are hardly different than what you'd hear from a caucasian/minority-wannabe like Ward Churchill, at any Young Democrat chapter meeting, or at most lunch tables on the Harvard campus. You don't have to be black for your politics to be jejune and angry, you just have to be a member of the left.

And there's the rub with Sen. Obama---little of this has to do with race, and little of the upset on the part of conservatives, and most importantly, the independents he must court. It was Obama who made the focus of his speech race and racism, in a clever 3-Card Monte. The problem with Rev. Wright isn't that he's black and angry, it's that he's wack.

Look, in a two-party system, you can hardly expect the other guy to boot out all his strange bedfellows, because if you do, your bed gets pretty empty in a hurry. Lord knows the GOP doesn't discourage the snakehandling vote. For Obama to accept support from the black left, indeed the left as a whole, is as American as, well, declining to wear an American flag pin.

But when you climb into the strange bedfellow's bed all on your own instead of the other way around, that's when it's worrisome, and that's what Sen. Obama did by joining Rev. Wright's church two decades ago. If he truly disagrees with Rev. Wright's stance on most things, then he evidently cannot tell the difference between the duties to principle, the reality of two-party politics and mere cynical opportunism.

Either way, most Americans don't want a wack leftist for president, or an opportunist either. Senator Obama has done little to prove he's not one or both.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama Plays the Otter Card

On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmation action, that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap," he said. "On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation, that rightly offend white and black alike...

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street....These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.---Barack Obama, Philadelphia '08

Masterful. In times of crisis, consult the repository of all human wisdom, the classics.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules or took a few liberties with our female guests. We did.

But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few sick, perverted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general?

I put it to you, Greg, isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do what you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you bad-mouth the United States of America! Gentlemen!---Eric Stratton, Faber '63

Monday, March 17, 2008

Obama: Between His Black Rock of Ages and a Very Hard Place

Tomorrow, Barack Obama is going to Philly to give the speech of his life to save his candidacy.

Now, it might be that Obama can survive the superdelegate game and still win the Democrat nomination. But in this Feiler Faster 24/7 newsuniverse, his 20 years as a member of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's congregation have hit the fan.

With the pivotal Pennsylvania primary another 5 weeks away, Obama is already looking at a substantial defeat. One poll had him down to the lovely and talented Hillary Rodham Clinton 55-36, and that was before the nation started learning about Rev. Wright's jeremiads against "white" America: "White greed" makes the needy world suffer. 9-11 was a justifiable payback. The white US government used AIDS as a weapon against the browner people on Earth, to kill them off just on general principles.

Dude's wack, the black equivalent of a Kennedy assassination theorist, a UFO believer, an anti-fluoridation activist, and a guy who sends Elvis a card every year on his birthday.

Sen. Obama, who's had his path to the presidency strewn with garlands and rose petals, has to negotiate his way around the biggest turd in recent electoral memory.

As Mickey Kaus, a leading proponent of the Feiler Faster Theory asks, what if Obama loses Pennsylvania by 20 points? Who knows? It could be worse than that. Rasmussen, admittedly an outlier, shows some ominous numbers: since Rev. Wright hit the sleepy consciousness of national fan, Sen. Obama's national negative rating has leapt to 50%, and 54% among white voters.

Now, the actual fact is likely that the young and politically ambitious Barack Obama found a power center in Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, and you go to church where the votes and kingmakers are. Who's listening, anyway? Just shake some hands afterward, cut a lunch date with a potential contributor, throw a few smiles to the crowd and get home by noon for the Bears game.

Now, the sentiments on the left [and the Obama campaign] are that talk can solve everything, whether with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or the American electorate. Barack Obama gets his chance to talk. I suppose he'll say he disagrees with "some" of Rev. Wright's rantings.

But although I expect some world-class eloquence tomorrow that'll satisfy some, I suspect there is a critical mass of voters who will not elect him president until and unless he tells us which one rantings he does disagree with.

And if and when he does, he'll lose some of his strongest supporters.

Because, as it turns out, not all talk can be talked away with more talk. It's gotta be this or that, quoth The Duke. There are fundamental disagreements in the American polity, and although George Washington was elected by unanimous vote, it has not happened since, nor will anyone ever be again.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rev. Wright...

So how to think about the quite estimable Rev. Wright, the now not-so-close adviser to Sen. Obama? Well, take two poles out of play: I doubt it's the case that Obama shares many of Rev. Wright's particular views (e.g. that AIDS was brought on by "Whitey" to get the black man) but neither do I think that he's entirely immaterial to our evaluation of Obama. Very few of us churchgoers agree entirely with our pastors and sometimes we may even stay at churches where the pastor makes us grind our teeth on a weekly basis. But being a part of a church that's so powerfully centered around the personality of a particular pastor for *20 years* has to suggest that Obama at the very least didn't feel all *that* uncomfortable with Wright (and here I'm assuming that he's basically lying when he says that he wasn't aware of Wright's controversial statements - even if he didn't know anything about those particular statements, it beggars the imagination to suppose that Wright hadn't said similar things in his presence) and, what's more, he felt comfortable enough about the church that had his two daughters there and continued to tithe pretty well. That Obama didn't suppose that Wright would be a problem for him and his campaign also speaks a great deal to Obama's real blindness about Wright - and how extreme his statements sound to most Americans. And that's the real problem here: to the degree that Obama continued to play up his association with his church and Rev. Wright, it at the very least shows that he thinks Wright's noxious statements are not outside the pale, regardless of whatever damage control he's begun. It's not unlike Edwards' willingness to nod and look thoughtful when the 9/11 "Truthers" would go on about the government's complicity with terrorist attacks. (Note that Bill Clinton, in contrast, has been pretty forceful in slapping down the wackadoos...). Neither really believes that crap, but their willingness to allow it into the national conversation is troubling, to say the least.